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“Amazing!”

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Yandup Island Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Amazing!”
Reviewed January 7, 2013

I recently got back from staying at the Yandup lodge for 2 nights and I loved every minute of it. The staff is excellent, the scenery is amazing and the food was delicious! I would love to come back soon, and would probably stay 3 nights next time.

I don't quite understand how people said the food was lacking/ not fulfilling enough. I have a pretty big appetite and had no trouble staying full in between meal times without any snacks.

Tips:
-bring your own beach towel.
- 2 of the women made bracelets for me and my friend, and will do so upon request!
-They will make lobster. I unfortunately did not know this, and you need to put your request in one day in advance. However, I was not disappointed because our meals were outstanding
-Bring books/ cards/ board games
-If you are flying Panama Air, call a day in advance to make sure your flight is on time. Ours was delayed about 2 hours, but we were lucky enough to know beforehand
- We did brought bug spray, but did not need to use it

This little getaway trip will not disappoint!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank lizza989
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (80)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2013 via mobile

Had a family get together over Christmas and spent 5 wonderful days on Yandup Island. What an experience! The cabanas are wonderful and so comfortable. We had the 4 water view cabins (not over the water), which are on the windward side of the island so you have a constant breeze to keep you somewhat cool. There are two power outlets in each cabin, so you can charge your cameras, phones, etc. The food was wonderful, and plentiful. We had some chips, nuts, and other small stuff for between meal snacks but we were all completely satisfied with the meal portions, and the taste and presentation was outstanding. Even my son, who never eats fish at home, ate every meal in full. The staff were great (especially Domy and Blanco) and even though none of us spoke Spanish or Kuna, we were able to communicate with them fairly successfully. We did all of the outings, which included trips to the Kuna community, the Kuna cemetery, a farm, and a boat trip to the mangroves, where we saw an alligator. I cannot say enough about what a wonderful place it is. The only negative comment I would make is the amount of garbage on some of the other island beaches that you visit. Such a shame. But other than that I would highly recommend it. I think a stay ranging from 3 to 5 days would be ideal.

Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank Andrew F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed December 30, 2012

Went for 3 nights with my girlfriend, but I'd recommend no more than two nights (1 night would work great too). Extremely friendly people, great exposure to native culture, excellent weather and tropical beaches + snorkeling, quiet and peaceful setting.

Getting there:
You have to purchase a flight with Air Panama and they are currently the only way of getting there. This is unfortunate because the airline is TERRIBLE. You book flights by phone (or Yandup will do it for you if you give them your billing info). The airline does not issue tickets, you just get a verbal confirmation and code. You're asked to call in the afternoon before you fly to confirm your reservation. Our flight was at 6am and they confirmed us the day before. When we got to the airport to check in at 5am, they told us that they moved us to the 10am flight because they oversold the 6am flight. We obviously complained and they seemed to be used to this and just brushed it off. Every group that arrived subsequently to the island went through the same issue - half of them had to wait at the airport for 4 hours because they randomly pushed them back to the next flight. Note also that it is a small airplane (19 passengers) and it's a bumpy ride if you're not used to flying in smaller aircraft. It's important that I include this detail in this review because you don't have an alternative for getting there and it really impacts the experience.

Once you get to Playon Chico airport, a friendly Kuna tour guide will meet you and take you in a small powerboat for a 10 minute ride to Yandup Island.

The island:
It's tiny and beautiful. It's probably 2 football fields long with some coconut palms, a communal dining area, and about 12 bungalows. It's got a little beach too with some chairs.

The rooms:
The bungalows are all wood + dried palm construction. They are open air (no window pains) and right on the shore or stilted above water. They have a deck with two hammocks overlooking the ocean - picturesque. No hot water in the showers and very little water pressure - the water is also not ok to drink. The humidity is also through the roof, so be prepared to feel wet all the time, especially in the bed (the bed is like a giant sponge). The bed is bug net equipped - the only bugs you need to worry about are little sand fleas and some occasional mosquitos. You're essentially camping, but your "tent" is a beautiful wooden bungalow.

The food:
All meals are prepared and served in the communal dining area. The meals are preset and only vary you ask ahead of time (i.e. due to a food allergy). Otherwise, everyone gets the same thing.

Breakfast is from 7-8:30am and consists of a simple eggs and ham, or pancakes, with some coffee and juice. Lunch is at 1pm sharp and usually consists of seafood (fish, mussels, etc.) with some simple veggies (e.g. carrots). Dinner is at 6pm sharp and consists of soup/salad, seafood, and vegetables/rice.

The food is pretty good, but don't look to be blown away. Unfortunately a large number of people got sick one of the nights from one of the meals, so just be prepared with some stomach medicine like you would do in remote places.

What to do:
There is a coordinated tour/trip every day at 9:30am, usually to a beach/snorkeling destination. They take you to little uninhabited islands by boat that have spectacular beaches and snorkeling. There is another event every day at 4:30pm that is cultural by nature (visit the Kuna village to buy hand made goods, visit their cemetery to see how they bury their dead). The excursions last 1.5-2 hours.

After dinner, it's pretty much pitch black (7:30pm) and unless you're an avid reader or a very early sleeper, you'll have to get pretty creative about what to do. They're currently building a bar that will have some music, which I think will really add to the island. But I got pretty bored in the evenings.

What to make sure you bring:
Insect repellent, sunscreen (the sun is SERIOUS), stomach medicine, a few snacks (e.g. granola bars). You don't need a lot of clothes and ladies, leave the hairdryers and makeup - it just won't work out there. :)

The trip was an experience and we loved learning about the Kunas. It was definitely on the "roughing it" side for me and maybe a little too quiet. After the second day, the tours and food just repeated themselves, so I'd really recommend just staying two nights as that's what they seem to be designed for right now. We picked 3 nights because other reviews recommended that, but I don't think that's right (we skipped both excursions the 3rd day because we had already done both the first day).

Room Tip: The over water rooms are neat - you can even see fish through the floor boards sometimes.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank angel_uf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 29, 2012

A beautiful island lodge off the Caribbean coast of Panama. An excellent getaway for 2 nights while visiting Panama City. Rustic and simple accommodations.

Future travelers should be cautioned that getting to this destination has the potential to be a frustrating experience. In order to get there you must take a small plane. The only airline that flies there is Air Panama. Flights leave out of Albrook airport in Panama City and land in Playon Chico. The flight is about 45 minutes long. After calling the airlines several times and getting responses like "we don't know what our flight plans will be for the month of December yet" we decided to book through Yandup Lodge. We were instructed by Yandup to call the airlines after 2pm the day before to confirm our reservation. We did so and assumed that after arriving at the airport at 5am we would have no issues. As soon as we arrived, however, the woman at the check-in desk informed us that the flight was full and that we would have to wait at the airport for 4 hours for the next flight. After a heated discussion with the manager, he finally asked us how much we weighed and calculated the weight of the current cargo and passengers on a piece of paper. A little disconcerting. He then informed us we could in fact board the airplane. Later in the trip we discovered that just about everyone on the island had the same experience with the airline. A frustrating and completely unnecessary experience to start out our trip to the islands. Departing from Playon Chico at the end of our 3 days on the island was also a frustrating experience. It resulted in a group of 12 people leaving from Yandup and several villagers standing next to an airstrip at 5 in the morning waiting for the pilot to read our names off of a piece of paper indicating that we were in fact able to board. It was like some sort of bizarre lottery. Even though the people at Yandup had ensured us that we were on that flight. It is really unfortunate that reaching this amazing destination is affected by the disorganization of a local airline company.

The trip from the airport to the island is easy. Someone from Yandup picks you up at the airport and you board a small boat. The boat ride to the island is about 20 minutes.

The island is beautiful. The only thing on the island is the lodge. When you stand on one side of the island you can see the other side. There is electricity and running water (just no hot water). The sun sets around 6:30pm and after that there is nothing but quiet and stars in the sky. The rooms are clean and include mosquito nets for the beds. We did not have any problems with bugs. The only bugs on the island we ran across were no see-ums at the small beach on the island at dusk.

They serve 3 meals a day, mainly seafood. The food was good, but bring stomach medicine just in case. After one of the dinners, the next day everyone on the island got food poisoning. My boyfriend has never been that sick. Definitely a damper on the experience. The people that work there were genuinely concerned and made us lemongrass tea to help. The owner, however, expressed mild concern and took no responsibility for the incident.

There are two excursions each day. The two guides were very knowledgeable and very nice. Their English is limited and you can get a lot more out of the tours if you speak Spanish. They take you on one beach excursion and one cultural excursion each day. The beaches will take your breath away. They are uninhabited islands and really the true reason why this trip is worth it all. They offer snorkel gear for rent and the islands have coral reefs with abundant sea life. My favorite cultural excursion was the trip to the village on Playon Chico. There you can see where the Kuna people live. Highly recommend purchasing one of the molas that the women make in the village, as some of the ones you find in Panama City are not authentic.

This is truly a one of a kind experience. Armed with the expectations on how to get there, plenty of sunscreen, bug spray and Imodium, this is an adventure you will never forget.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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Helpful?
Thank lauramichelleh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, New York, United States
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed December 16, 2012

The lodge is paradise.... the food, the people,the beach...everything was just amazing.
That was the best trip ever in my life. I stayed there for 2nights and could have done so many things. but I recommend to stay 3nights.
They have 3 private beaches and all of them are amazingly beautiful. All the tours they take you are interesting and give you a new experiences. The service was great too. the stuff was very warm and friendly. They told us a lot of stories of them and which changed my life and thought.

I'd love to go back there and meet those people. not only for the lodge or the beaches.

Room Tip: all the rooms are the same. it's a small island. there are only 10 lodges.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank travler20122012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed December 4, 2012

Yandup is divine. I went with my boyfriend and stayed in a bugalow over the ocean, only for one night. 3 days here would be perfect, and you would be able to take advantage of all the activities. The two activities we did were snorkeling/relaxing on a remote island and exploring the Kuna Community island.

The staff was superb!!!! Absolutely no complaints. Food was wonderful.

Only recommendation: bring your own beach towels.

To get here, you need to book a flight with AirPanama. Call Air Panama, then they will email you a credit card form you'll submit via email. It was very complicated to purchase the plane ticket, but eventually I figured it out. Or you can work through Yandup and they can help. You'll fly into Playon Chico airport on a small charter flight...it's an awesome view from the air.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank jen1234567
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Geneva, Switzerland
Level 5 Contributor
89 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed November 19, 2012

Really worthwhile experience staying with the Panama Indians in Kuna Yala. Cool, small, green island, quiet and remote. Totally out of civilization with no mobile phone access (or wifi or any other distractions of every day life).

Great food prepared by the Kunas over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Full inclusive room and board, morning and afternoon excursions and lights out at 20:00.

Pretty cool, once in a lifetime experience. Worth visiting.

Room Tip: Go for overwater roooms to compliment the experience but be warned: they are more humid!
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank PaniosBanios
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Yandup Island Lodge

Property: Yandup Island Lodge
Address: Playon Chico | Kuna Yala, 0838, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Guna Yala Region > San Blas Islands
Amenities:
Beach Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 28 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Yandup Island Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Yandup Island Lodge is the perfect getaway in the Caribbean of the Kuna Indians, in the San Blas Archipelago. Perfect place to relax in a hammock, enjoy the sea breeze and the sound of the waves and birds. In this private island with coconut palms, surrounded by coral reefs and a small beach you will be treated as kings and queens in one of our six lovely and comfortable cabins in front of the sea. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Yandup Island Hotel San Blas Islands

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